Oakman Inns challenges PM over reopening as it eyes 4 July date

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Oakman Inns challenges PM over reopening as it eyes 4 July date Coronavirus

Related tags: Oakman inns, Government, Coronavirus

Oakman Inns says it will be opening its entire estate on 4 July, and has challenged Prime Minister to tell it otherwise.

In a statement on the group's website, chief operating officer Dermot King states that all 28 Oakman sites would be open on 4 July despite 'the lack of clarity given to the hospitality sector by the Government'.

“We cannot wait any longer and won’t change our plans unless the Prime Minister intervenes," he says.

While there is currently no official date set for when pubs and restaurants across the country will be able to reopen, the Government has previously said it hopes to allow some businesses in the sector to reopen on 4 July.

“The operational challenges of restarting a business are complex," continues King.

"We need to plan three weeks out to arrange supplies of, in our case, fresh food and cask ales. While the rules on furlough allow us to complete training, we cannot prepare menus - and that requires time. Unless the Government performs another policy U-turn, we need to invest in that time now.”

The statement adds that Oakman has used the period during lockdown to 'proactively prepare' its pubs for reopening with safety measures and protocols such as screens between tables, reduced capacity, one-way systems through the premises, and disposable menus.

“We have taken advice and done everything we can to make sure that when we do reopen, the health and safety of our customers and staff is fully protected,” says King.

In the statement, King also calls on the Government to accelerate the release of its review​ into the possibility of reducing the guidance for social distancing.

“There is a huge difference for the hospitality sector when you compare the effects of operating with two metre spacing as opposed to one metre," he says.

"For many smaller premises, as well as those who don’t have significant outdoor areas, it simply will not be viable to open with the two-metre rule.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that if the Government does anything further to prevent pubs, bars and restaurants from opening on July 4, and doesn’t reduce social distancing from two metre to one metre, then there will be large numbers of job losses in the hospitality sector, as well as premises that probably never open again.

“Everyone is looking forward to the day when some sort of normality returns to the country, but if the Government doesn’t act fast then we won’t be toasting that moment in pubs and bars because most of them will have had to shut down.”

In a report by City AM​ today (18 June), it was reported that plans to announce that pubs and restaurants in England could reopen on 4 July have been delayed​ by the Government's review of the two-metre social distancing rule.

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